Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands.
Few people realise that Bali Island has seven islands of its own. Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Dua, Nusa Menjangan and Thanah Lot.
The two closest islands to Bali and perhaps most surprising are located in the Benoa area. In Bahasa Indonesia Nusa means island and Dua means two.
Bali’s three major islands are located in the south east of Bali in the Bandung Strait. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are sixteen miles from Bali and a short boat ride from Sanur, twelve miles or approximately thirty five minutes by boat.
The three islands once formed their own kingdom centered on Nusa Penida. And it is believed the realm was separate from the main rule of the Balinese at some stage of history.
However, it is also speculated the kingdom had connections with the South of Bali around the Bukit area. There are a number of temples in the area that are positioned and unified with the major temple on Nusa Penida, Dalem Peed.
The last king of the island realm was killed in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and eventually the island population was subjugated by the Balinese.
The islands of Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida were then transformed into a penal colony and the Balinese often shipped major criminals and political activists to the islands shores.
The isolation of the islands then brought about shift in the traditions and culture of the inhabitants. And eventually they began to cultivate their own unique customs and ceremonies.
It is also believed that during this period a powerful black magic was developed and practiced by the islanders.
Word of this powerful magic soon reached the main island and overtime the people inhabiting the three islands came to be viewed with a mixture of trepidation and religious reverence.
Due to this fear the rulers of Bali soon stopped shipping there prisoners and they stopped sending boats to the islands. Then eventually the islanders were left alone by the rulers of Bali and they were allowed to govern by themselves.
The people of Bali were not the only ones who regarded the population of island people with uneasiness and fear.
Ancient navigation charts of the time are said to show the three islands marked with a skull and crossbones symbol. This was apparently done to warn sailors that under no circumstances should they harbor their ships close to the shores of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.